Academic journal article English Language Teaching

Perceived Views of Language Teachers on the Use of Needs Analysis in ESP Materials Writing

Academic journal article English Language Teaching

Perceived Views of Language Teachers on the Use of Needs Analysis in ESP Materials Writing

Article excerpt

Abstract

Needs analysis is generally believed to be important in ESP/EAP context because it enables practitioners and materials writers to find out about their real learners' needs. Therefore, this study is set out to investigate EFL teachers' beliefs and views about need analysis use and practices, specifically in the ESP/EAP tertiary context of the Sultanate of Oman. A group of (55) EFL teachers in 4 colleges participated in the study by responding to a questionnaire designed for the study's purpose. The questionnaire was analyzed and percentages and frequencies were taken. The study concluded that needs analysis has to be encouraged and leaners' needs are of utmost importance ESP/EAP materials writing. The findings of this study showed that the vast majority of EFL teachers are in favour of using needs analysis as a basis for ESP/EAP materials writing and they believe that it is a significant factor in successful ESP materials development.

Keywords: needs analysis, ESP/EAP practice, material production, learner involvement

1. Background

English language teaching (ELT) is a progressive field that often witnesses revolutions and innovations. Teachers, researchers, and practitioners are in continuous search for the best teaching materials and practices that can help learners succeed in their language learning and meet the market and employment criteria. In the nineteenth century, language teaching practice for instance, grammar-translation method was in its heydays, notably in Europe. However, the changing geopolitical conditions and social scenes in the USA due to massive migrations, tourism, increasing internationalization of trade and business shaped the classroom practices in the early years of the twentieth century. The direct consequences of that have called for practicing new methods since grammar-translation method was no longer able to meet the new class reality. Such a new reality had its potential impact on classroom. This supported by Cook (2003) pointed out that "new types of students-immigrants, business people, and tourist created a new kind of classroom population" who their needs need to be considered (p. 33). From practical point of view grammar-translation method would not fit the new classroom scenes, challenges and the students' needs since "in the language schools and evening classes which created for them, the students did not necessarily share the same first language, making it simply impossible for instruction to proceed through first-language explanation and translation" (ibid). The compelling urgency for language need by immigrants, businessmen and tourists for communication purposes motivated language experts to promote the 'direct method'. In an attempt to meet the students need for writing and speaking abilities in English and provide a supportive context for language practice and use, the students' first languages were abolished encouraging them to use the target language.

This significant move in response to the language learners' needs has been further motivated by the emergence of communicative language teaching method (CLT) which stressed on the significance of learners' knowledge of both language forms and their relevance to the context in which they are used. This has motivated the advocacy of exploring learners' needs, a crucial element of English for Specific Purposes (ESP), as argued by Cook (2003) that "whereas in the past, whether in grammar-translation or in direct method teaching, the emphasis had been upon mastery of forms first and their use later, CLT students considered first what they needed to do with the language and then learned the forms which would fulfill those needs" (pp. 36-7). Hutchinson & Waters (1993) claim that designing an ESP course is fundamentally a matter of asking questions to the learners in order to provide areas and basis for subsequent process of syllabus design, material production, classroom teaching and evaluation (1993, p. …

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